Can dietary changes reverse atherosclerosis? Can you lower blood pressure without any of the risks associated with statin drugs?
A new international study uses cutting-edge technology to prove that the answer to both questions is yes.
Dr. Iris Shai – of the Ben-Gurion University, Israel – has spent the last two years working on this study. She placed 140 people on a low-carb diet for two years. The diet was low in carbs, rich in low-glycemic vegetables, and cut out trans fats and processed foods.
Participants had to stick to the diet for two years. Researchers found that all participants gradually lost weight over the course of the study. But more importantly, they powered up their hearts and arteries.
The scientists used 3D ultrasound imaging technology to measure and “watch” the changes happening inside participant’s arteries.
Usually arteries thicken with age, but once these participants changed their eating habits their arteries decreased in volume and thickness.
“Long-term adherence to weight loss diets is effective for reversing atherosclerosis as long as we stick to the healthy diet strategy,” says Dr. Shai.
These new findings are part of an epic international dietary study. The 3D images were analysed at the Imaging Research Laboratories in London. Blood biomarkers were studied in Leipzig University Laboratories, Germany.
Dr. Dan Schwarzfuchs, the director of the medical clinic at the Dimona Research Center in Israel, also took part in the study.
“A low-carbohydrate diet seems like a safe and efficient alternative to low-fat diets in reversing the atherosclerosis process,” says Dr. Schwarzfuchs.
Harvard Medical School in the U.S. helped to plan and coordinate the study. Harvard’s Dr. Meir Stampfer reviewed the findings.
“[The] main findings are that low-carb diets are healthful for weight loss, and they are safe,” says Dr. Stampfer. But he notes that low-carb doesn’t mean Atkins. He’s not talking about heavy cream and bacon, deli meat or hot dogs. He says low-carb diets work… “as long as the protein and fat sources are healthful.”
That’s because processed foods are loaded with artificial colorings, flavors, and toxins. These clog your heart and arteries.
However, regular store-bought beef is grain fed. So you’re getting additional corn and wheat when you eat it which adds to your grain intake. Plus, the cattle are often pumped full of hormones – estrogen and testosterone – which can cause prostate and breast cancers.
But lean, grass-fed beef is another matter. It’s not only hormone free, it also has one-half to one-third the amount of fat as a similar cut of meat from a grain-fed cow. That means it’s lower in calories. Plus, it’s high in vital omega 3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation.
This is important because doctors believe that inflammation is a precursor for heart disease. In fact, another Harvard study found omega 3 deficiencies cause the premature death of between 63,000 and 100,000 Americans a year.
Good protein sources of healthy omega 3s are cage-free eggs and cold-water, wild-caught fish like Pacific salmon.
Add plenty of low-glycemic fruits and vegetables like berries and broccoli, and you’re setting yourself up for a weight loss plan to help you lose pounds and strengthen your heart.
”For long-term health,” says Dr. Stampfer, ”you want sources of calories to be healthy and a low-carb option rich in protein from fish and poultry, without trans fats.”
To your health,
NHD “Health Watch”